Endless beaches and limpid blue seas teaming with life – a paradise for divers and nature lovers
Amazing white sand beaches lined with coconut trees, crystal clear lukewarm seas. The 76 islands and atolls within the Tuamotu Archipelago are spread over an area of more than 2 million sq km and where the story of Robinson Crusoe could truly exist! Living up to its reputation, the Tuamotu are a must-see for keen divers. The atoll lagoons are a protected paradise where underwater life is spectacular.
This area is also the cradle of the legendary Tahitian cultured pearl, grown with love, patience and respect, lying in a blue elegant oyster. Some Tuamotu atolls are just endless white sandy beaches with a few acres of coconut plantations. Others, such as Rangiroa, the second largest atoll in the world, are much larger. These mini paradise islands, dotted idyllically amidst the aqua blue ocean, are remote; yet easy to reach via boat/plane without having to transit via Papeete. You will find family pensions and guest houses around most of the islands and the largest atolls host international resorts, all welcoming visitors from around the world.
RANGIROA (the endless lagoon)
Located an hour away from Tahiti, Rangiroa is a huge atoll – the largest in French Polynesia and the second largest in the world. It’s a natural aquarium, which Captain Jacques Cousteau referred to as one of the most beautiful dive sites on Earth. Non-divers can also enjoy as the crystal-clear water ensures sightings of prolific underwater life visible with the naked eye or while snorkelling. Rangiroa also has dream beaches where pale pink sand is as soft as the inside of a seashell.
TIKEHAU (the pink sand island)
Located 305 km from Tahiti and just 12 km from Rangiroa, Tikehau and its lagoon look like a natural outdoor swimming pool, with an absolutely astounding variety of marine life. In the air, admire the bird colonies where many species hold magical names such as red-footed boobies, greater crested terns, blue noddies, or lesser frigates. In Tuherahera, the only village on the atoll, life is peaceful and follows the rhythms of fishing, copra and religious services.
MANIHI (the pearl island)
Located 500 km from Tahiti and less than 200 km from Rangiroa, Manihi atoll looks like a large coral crown. It is made of nine motu separated by hoa, channels that allow the lagoon and the ocean to meet. While Manihi embodies the perfect postcard scenery with a lagoon as beautiful as abundant, the atoll also represents another major interest, that of being the cradle of the Tahitian cultured pearl.
FAKARAVA (between ocean and sky) Paradise has a name: Fakarava. Its staggering beauty is an absolute must-see. Miles of motu with untouched beaches, a huge lagoon; it is an untouched wildlife sanctuary. Fakarava awakens the Robinson Crusoe hidden deep inside us. Fakarava (meaning “beautiful”) is as striking below the water as it is above. Crystal clear seas, a 5-star underwater world, fluorescent corals and divinely warm water: simple snorkelling gear will be sufficient to make one fall in love with this oceanic wonder. Divers around the world dream of Fakarava: huge coral heads, schools of fish by the thousands, and “walls” of sharks close to the drop-offs. Amazing thrills await the traveller. Fakarava is also a world bioshpere reserve for UNESCO.
THE OTHER TUAMOTU ATOLLS
Takapoto (the atoll of rare pearls) Idyllic and pristine, this atoll is a dream paradise. Takapoto is a closed island without a real pass allowing the lagoon and ocean to meet, which is why the atoll has remained so untouched. It is the home of the famous black pearl (from the oyster Pinctada margaritifera), the main resource on the island.
ANAA (the jade lagoon)
Lying between sky and ocean, the coral ring of Anaa is still recognised by Polynesian sailors thanks to the bright emerald colour of its lagoon. The atoll doesn’t have a pass and shelters spectacular Feo – huge 3m high coral blocks emerging from the lagoon! Anaa was the cradle of the royal Pomare family in the 19th Century but was also the most populated atoll of the archipelago. It was the land of Parata, fierce warriors named after a huge shark, who imposed their power up to Rangiroa.